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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Rondina

Sea of Stars Review

Set sail with Sea of Stars, a RPG that blends retro tropes with contemporary gameplay mechanics, my full review.

If you’re a fan of '90s-era RPGs Sea of Stars offers an incredible nostalgic journey with a unique blend of modern mechanics. The cosmic adventure pays homage to the classics while carving its own path in the role-playing genre. Developed by Sabotage Studio, this near pixel-perfect classic combines elements from beloved titles like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana and early Final Fantasy games. But does it merely mimic the past, or does it forge its own identity? Let’s dive into the depths of this seafaring, celestial journey and find out with my full review.

Sea of Stars Details

Platform(s): Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Developer(s): Sabotage Studio

Publisher(s): Sabotage Studio

Genre: Role-playing

Mode(s): Single-player

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+


A journey written in the stars

Sea of Stars tells the tale of two “Children of the Solstice,” Valere and Zale, who are thrust into a grand adventure against the backdrop of an ancient prophecy. As wielders of Eclipse Magic, they stand as the last beacon of hope against the vile alchemist known as The Fleshmancer. The narrative weaves a rich tale of friendship, betrayal, and the timeless battle between light and darkness.

"The narrative weaves a rich tale of friendship, betrayal, and the timeless battle between light and darkness."

One of the things I enjoyed most about the story is that it had quite a few unpredictable twists and turns. For a while I thought I understood where the story was going, only to be surprised by a twist. This, in my opinion, is a big highlight to the overall Sea of Stars experience.

Turn-based strategic combat

The gameplay in Sea of Stars is a blend of strategic turn-based combat and exploration. I found myself engaged in battles that required a lot of “hair-trigger” timing and tactical strategy to emerge victorious, and it really kept me engaged. The combat system encourages multi-character combo attacks and magic. The game’s battle system mostly breaks free from a grid-based format, allowing for more fluid movement.

"I found myself engaged in battles that required a lot of “hair-trigger” timing and tactical strategy to emerge victorious, and it really kept me engaged."

Sea of Stars Image Gallery

It also makes use of day and night mechanics to help you solve puzzles and move forward on your journey. These look particularly impressive, and I never got tired of puzzles that made use of this, simply because it gave me more time to marvel at the detailed environments. Overall, there is enough with Sea of Stars’ combat mechanics to feel fresh, yet familiar and I couldn’t get enough of the experience.


Sea of Stars' pixel perfect art direction

Visually, Sea of Stars is a pixel art masterpiece, pushing the boundaries of 2D graphics with its dynamic lighting and meticulously crafted environments. The art direction, led by Thierry Boulanger, Sabotage Studio Creative Director and his team take you on a journey through lush landscapes and intricate dungeons.

"When shifting the time-of-day, shadows dance across your screen, lights flicker on and off while other effects make the environments feel alive."

These are all brought to life with a vibrant palette that makes you want to explore the beautiful world. Previously, I mentioned the day/night mechanics and when activated they provide some stunning eye candy. When shifting the time-of-day, shadows dance across your screen, lights flicker on and off while other effects make the environments feel alive. It’s stunning to behold and reminds you of all the more modern systems and mechanics at work underneath Sea of Star’s 16-bit exterior.

Sea of Stars Audio Design

The audio design and soundtrack in Sea of Stars is nothing short of magical especially if you are a fan of classic 16-bit RPGs. Lead composer Eric W. Brown and his team use Sea of Star’s rich audio to help tell its story. The game’s music and sound effects create an immersive atmosphere that reflect the different times of day and diverse environments and inhabitants. There are over 200 songs in the game, and the multitude of compositions do an excellent job capturing the different times of day in many areas.

"There are over 200 songs in the game, and the multitude of compositions do an excellent job capturing the different times of day in many areas."

The legendary Yasunori Mitsuda, known for his work on Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and the Xeno Series also lent his talents to the audio design of the game. As a guest composer, Mitsuda contributed more than ten new pieces. Along with the beautiful visuals, the audio team delivered something truly special adding even more emotional depth to the game.


Final Thoughts on Sea of Stars

Sea of Stars is a celestial odyssey that shines brightly in the RPG genre. It’s a game that respects its 16-bit roots while reaching for the stars with its modern gameplay, storytelling, and audio-visual presentation. With its engaging combat, beautiful visuals, and an enchanting soundtrack, Sea of Stars is a journey worth taking for both veterans and newcomers to the genre.


Sea of Stars Pros

+Engaging turn-based combat

+Stunning pixel art graphics

+Incredible soundtrack


Sea of Stars Cons

-Some may find the classic RPG formula too familiar

-Combat can get a little repetitive by the end of the game

-Backtracking can become onerous


Overall Assessment of Sea of Stars

Gameplay: 8/10

Graphics: 8/10

Sound: 9/10

Replayability: 7/10


Overall Rating: 32/40 (80%)

A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo for the purpose of this review.

 

About the Author - Matthew "Dapper Tux" Rondina

Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Along with being the Managing Editor of dappertux.com, he has bylines with Best Buy, Cineplex Entertainment, Mobile Syrup and Walmart. Follow Matthew’s gaming + tech adventures on multiple social platforms with the handle @dapper_tux via "X", Instagram, Threads, TikTok and join in on the fun!

 

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